‘Sex sells!’ the ad men screamed when asked about the use of the female body in their work.
Indeed. But what that phrase really translates to in the world we live in is: ‘The Dehumanised Female Form Sells!’
The structural violence inflicted upon women by advertising is formidable. Often reduced to a piece of highly photoshopped, idealised-form furniture, the imagery used in many campaigns continually reinforces the notion that women are something akin to props, agency-less and adrift in a world of powerful men. And I’m sure we don’t need reminders of what happens in a world like that. I would link to some examples of those kinds of ads, but… I won’t.
Suitstudio is an offshoot of the US-based menswear brand Suitsupply. They make suits for women. They have been running an ad campaign recently that is… Well, it’s delicious in how deftly it flips the script of what we expect to see from a campaign like it.
Models without faces, often lying prostrate and naked, seemingly at the beck and call of the well-dressed and assertive ad ‘protagonist’. Looks familiar no?
Here’s the thing: Advertising, like its father Capitalism, is a pretty cruel business. But if we have to do it, it’d be lovely to do it without dehumanising anyone. These ads dehumanise the men. But right now, in the world we live in, that kind of imagery offers up very valuable food for thought.
It reminds me of that saying: Men are afraid of a matriarchal world because they assume women would run it like men run a patriarchal one.